While working in his family's pharmaceutical business in Montreal in the mid-1960s, Ronald E. Cape was among those who saw commercial possibilities in the unfolding mystery of DNA. Cape, who had a B.A. in chemistry from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from Harvard University, decided to study biochemistry. After receiving a Ph.D. from McGill University, he did postdoctoral work in genetics at the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1971 he co-founded Cetus Corporation and became its chairman, president and chief executive officer. The Emeryville, Calif., company was taken public in 1981 and has grown into one of the world's leading biotech firms, with 1986 revenues of $50 million. The therapeutic products it has been developing to combat cancer and infectious diseases include interleukin-2, beta interferon and tumor necrosis factor. In partnerships with other corporations, Cetus also is exploring bioengineering opportunities in food, agriculture, animal health care, instrumentation and diagnostics....

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